Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Thigh slapping alive and well

Robin Hood

Hall Green Little Theatre


THE harvest is safely gathered in at Hall Green Little Theatre with enough corn for all of south Birmingham . . . and most of Solihull . . . in a lively festive offering straying just a little from the beaten tracks of Cinders, Sleeping Beauty, Dick Whittington and the like.

A stroll through Sherwood Forest was not enough though to lose the awful jokes and puns that would make even a Christmas cracker joke writer of low self-esteem blush with embarrassment. Festive fare is the natural habitat of jokes badly in need of care in the community.

Although the cast did lose one feature of little theatre traditional pantos throughout the kingdom, it was noticeable a couple of times in chorus numbers that all the cast were moving, with arms waving vaguely in unison, in roughly the same direction at the same time and that they were all singing the same words.

As a veteran of pantos where merely getting all the chorus on stage at the same time and in the right order was an achievement this was a revelation,  thank, I suspect, to choreographer Tanya Merten and lots of rehearsals.

The story was fairly simple to follow, as simple as the castle guards Asbo (Charlie Crow) and Subo (Ross Shaw) if we are honest. We have the Sherriff of Nottingham played with black-costumed and black-hearted evility (is that a word? Ed) by Richard Woodward (boo, hiss) who has the hots, or in his case, ice colds, for Maid Marion, played feistily by Rachael Louise Pickard.

 But Marion loves Robin Hood, who is a traditional principal boy, which might confuse those of a nervous disposition, a principal  boy is traditionally a girl, in this case the lively Jennie E Almond who in turn, or at least in character, loves Marion – big Aaaaaah please.


Marion is chaperoned by Nurse Knickerbocker, a traditional dame, played with gusto and bags of enthusiasm by Ryan Knight who did his level best to work the audience.

And, he didn’t make the mistake of which some of the cast were guilty in delivering lines while the audience were still laughing. The golden rule of panto is milk every line for every drop – oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is! Oh no it . . . (get on with it. Ed!) A few jokes were lost because the set up had been drowned by laughs from the joke before- and when laughs are the currency of panto that is a criminal waste.

The Merry Men, and in this case merry women as well, gave us Friar Tuck, Dave to his friends, (John Bourbonneux), Mutch the Miller (Gemma McCaffrey), Little John (David Hurst) and Em-A-Dale (Sarah Lamb – cue soap music).

Then there was the head guard played by Ryan Timothy Price trying to keep order and the assorted minions, guards and peasants played by Pascal Bourke, Jack Heath and Oscar Davies.

And in the regal corner we had Prince John played by James Boyce and a late entrance by King Richard played by the director Dean Taylor.

Meanwhile in the bowels of the earth under the stage we had the band, or at least Jordan Edwards on drums and the versatile and excellent Geddes Cureton on keyboards who was, I suspect, the source of the start of many a shout and chant. Either that or one of the youngsters or mums in the front row had a very loud, deep voice.

We had hypnotism, a modicum of slapstick, swordfights any Morris dancer would be proud of and an archery contest in the dark, castle walls that floated – something they were not meant to do methinks – and a singalong to finish. It’s Christmas, corny jokes, enthusiasm a plenty, unlikely plot and daft characters – so what is not to like. To 14-12-13.

Roger Clarke

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